One of the top dream destinations for any beer lover is surely a visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Held every year from the third weekend of September through the first weekend of October, this is the event to attend if you want to see what Oktoberfest is all about!
While you may think Oktoberfest is the perfect spur of the moment trip, I must warn you, this is not the case! I truly suggest that you do all the proper preparations if you want to have a problem-free Oktoberfest memory!
Here are a few tips to help you through your first visit to Oktoberfest:
1. Ensure You Have a Hotel Reservation
Oktoberfest is not a weekend in Las Vegas. The festivities do not run all night, in fact, the tents close at 10:30PM every night, so you will need to have something in line for the late-night hours and when the tents officially open at 9 (sat/sun) or 10 the next morning. If you wait too long to find a hotel, you may find yourself out of your budget, or staying very far out of the city, with an hour+ train ride back to your hotel. Some hotels fill up a year+ in advance of the event, so if you are thinking of attending Oktoberfest, book your hotel as soon in advance as you can. If you can find a hotel in the center of town, you can more easily enjoy the post-fest activities in Munich itself, such as the original Hofbrauhaus in the city center.
2. Book Your Seats
Especially if you have a large group you are traveling with, and even more so on the weekends, you will want to reserve seats in a tent a few months in advance, otherwise you will find yourself scrambling to find a seat in one of the hugely crowded tents at the festival. Remember, if you’re not in a seat, you won’t be served!
3. Be Flexible!
So you’re not in a tent…so what? It just so happens that the month of September tends to have some very nice weather, and both times I have attended, the weather has been perfect the entire time I was at the festival. While seats within the beer tents may be very hard to come by, it is often much easier to find seats outside the tents in the beer gardens of each of the tents. While you may miss out on some of the formal entertainment (brass bands), all of the other elements are available at the outside seating, including the large Maß of beer, served by an official “beer wench”, with the same food choices and most of the rest of the ambiance (i.e. loud mobs of drunken fellow celebrants). On weekdays, you can often even manage to visit multiple tents in a single day if you make use of outside seating instead of waiting for seats inside each of the tents. There are six official Oktoberfest beers, Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu, so this is the way to go if you want to try all six in a single short visit.
4. Eat! Eat! Eat!
Remember, each Maß of beer is 1 litre in size, and if you go through a couple of these, you will feel it! Be sure to eat and drink other fluids (i.e. water) throughout the day to ensure you can enjoy the full experience. Oktoberfest is known for its food as well as its beer. Be sure to try a half-chicken, giant soft pretzel, and/or weisswurst!
5. Be Safe
Remember, Munich is a large city, and aside from the celebratory atmosphere within the festival grounds, you are within a major metropolis when outside the grounds. Be aware of your surroundings, and know where you are, and where you are going. While the increased tourism is accompanied by increased security, you should be sure to ensure your own safety and secure your belongings at all times. Don’t let the party ruin your experience!
Be sure to start your planning now for Oktoberfest in the coming years. Dates are:
- 2013: September 21 – October 6
- 2014: September 20 - October 5
- 2015: September 19 - October 4
- 2016: September 17 - October 3
Be sure to check out the official Oktoberfest website for detailed information: http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/